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  • Dawn Alexander

8/3/23 ECEA Child Care Update


CDEC Meeting with ECEA for UPK Clarity

In meeting with Executive Director, Lisa Roy, Director of UPK and Piper Holliday with the Governors office we discussed UPK and some of the things YOU need to know. We started our discussion with the reality that the department initially had to address a scarcity concern. They had to ensure that there would be enough programs available to meet the needs of the program from day one and your engagement was critical to that process. You engaged and then there was a different problem....too many UPK seats for the number of enrolled families. They really only anticipated a need for 38,400 slots.

"All in doesn't make sense."-Lisa Roy

On the face of things this statement sounds right but after the meeting we've been thinking through this departmental mindset. We asked the Department for information on the number of slots that existed in the state. Keep in mind that this is an ever moving target but for illustration purposes we are going to use July 20th Data to demonstrate a critical point.

The Department showed the following slots in the state:

Total = 58,176

Filled = 30,193

Unfilled = 27,983

We also know that in the fall we were told that there are 64,000 4 year old children in the state that qualify for UPK. That means that as of 7/20/23 our system was still 5,824 seats short for families to be able to fully engage in the UPK program. To fund based on slots to ensure 100% engagement at the 10 hour rate would require $309.6 Million.

Last December we shared this department approved graphic with you:

Ten Hours per family would have cost on average $4,837.46 per child. For 64,000 children that would have been a total tuition cost of $309.6 Million. At 15 hours per child the average cost per child is $6,044.37. To fund this entire system in it's entirety for all 64,000 it would require $386.8 Million. In short,100% enrollment CANNOT be funded at the 15 hour rate unless a cash infusion takes place. The department anticipated a 50-60% family engagement rate in the first year based on other state's 1st year results. At 60% engagement that puts this years enrollment at an anticipated level of 38,400 4 year olds. Base tuition for anticipated enrollment at the 15 hour rate is $232.1 Million. Don't forget that there is a base amount of $29 -37 Million from that pot that also has to go to 3 year olds for 10 hours of UPK via the school districts or school district sub-contracts.

Part of the solution:

The State is asking voters to approve Prop ii that would enable the state to keep the overage of tax funding that was generated from Prop EE. That would mean the state could keep an additional $23.65 million in tax revenue from the tobacco taxes (overage). If Prop ii doesn't pass then it will mean a reduction in the tobacco tax statewide. See details:

What the "all in" means for mixed delivery:

ECEA asserts that maybe not everyone can participate in UPK but certainly more can than are currently enrolled to provide UPK. The target of 100% enrollment to fully support all Colorado Families with the cost of at least 10% should always be the overall goal. Some families may choose not to engage. Their funding can support additional hours for 4 year olds with qualifying factors.

According to the CDEC data set released yesterday, school districts statewide have 664 programs with a capacity of 31,837 (preschools and child care center capacity). If each of those slots is available on a half day basis, they can serve 63,674 children.

It is CRITICAL that community based programs remain viable in the UPK system. This will honor:

1) Parent choice

2) The intent to sustain the mixed delivery system

Consider your business model :

Can you provide the care you contracted to do? Given that there are maybe another anticipated 6,000 students to spread out over nearly 28,000 available slots this there anything in this years business model that needs to shift?

  • We DID confirm that UPK funded preschoolers and Private Pay preschoolers CAN be served in the SAME classrooms. Don't let anyone tell you differently!! This will help you to figure out how to utilize your resources.

  • If your aren't going to be able to get the number of preschoolers you need (either through UPK funding or private pay) or can't find the staff that you need to support the enrolled preschoolers then do you need to shift away and serve more infants/toddlers? If that's the case, do so asap so that families can start strong where they will be for the year.

  • Do what you have to do to meet your businesses bottom line. The reality is that our state NEEDS you! If you want to talk through your options, Directors reach out to our Director Coach: Peggy Ferguson at She can help you think through your options!

  • Is your business model so unique that it fills with private pay families? Don't sweat it....keep doing you!

  • UPK funding is FIRST IN. CCCAP funding can support before/after/wrap/child care outside of UPK hours. Only about 10% of families statewide are currently funded through CCCAP.

Where's Head Start in all of this?

We've reached out to our Head Start Programs to see if they still are at risk of losing slots. Colorado's priority in serving low income families needs to prioritize the preservation of those slots. CDEC states that they agree with this mindset. UPK funding is first in to fund those slots but cannot be more than the 1/2 day rate as it would usurp federal funding support according to the Region 8 Head Start rep. CDEC is keeping an eye on that. Head Start programs: let us know if you have any concerns or issues here that we can help advocate for.

One last point about unique considerations.

CDEC says that each provider group in UPK will have unique considerations approved based on specialized needs for that part of the industry. ECEA agrees that this is a need but wants to emphasize that there MUST be full transparency on those considerations. Also, NO considerations should be allowed that provide a specific part of the UPK industry an upper hand over another part of the sector. Mixed delivery is a precarious balance that has to be intentionally guarded so as to not undermine the child care services that are available statewide.

ECEA will work to support the successful engagement of all programs types in this unique and exciting family support system. We know that Colorado can excel in this programming and are eager to provide supports that will help you to be successful with your programs engagement in the UPK system!

UPK Numbers Update for 8/3/23

With four rounds of matching now complete, 36,969 Colorado families have been matched to a provider. Of those families matched to providers, 16,532 have accepted their matches and 16,539 have enrolled for a total of 33,071 families. This represents 52.4 percent of the eligible children in the state of Colorado participating in Universal Preschool Colorado.



JULY 31-AUGUST 25, 2023.

Vendor for E&E can be contacted at: (720) 747-5110 (Councils and Applicants only please).

How to apply? Start with your Early Childhood Council! They can help.


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CDEC Hires A New Deputy Executive Director

Welcome to Colorado, Stephanie Beasley!



You must pay for the class in full before attending!

Here's what participants say about the Pyramid Training with Dawn:

"I feel like I know and implement this topic well, but Dawn has an excellent way of helping you to rethink what you know, analyze, and still come away with more ideas and skills."

"Love these Resources! Will def be adding some of the handouts into our "class packet" next month!"

"Great conversation and great ideas to implement."


"Great class lots of peer to peer learning"

  • This class provides 2 Training with Special Distinction points for the Early Childhood Credential under formal education.

  • It's an AMAZING resource to equip your teachers to establish structure and routines that support a healthy social emotional environment in their classroom. Provide them with tangible skills so that their job satisfaction improves.

  • This class can also be utilized to secure formal college education credit.



Throughout August, Candor & Co. will be hosting a variety of focus groups for the following participants:

  1. Families, with a particular emphasis on parents/guardians with infants and toddlers, families of children with special health needs, and families that prefer or only speak a language other than English. Groups will be offered in Spanish.

  2. Child Care & Early Education Providers, including licensed ECE professionals (Directors and Teachers); Early Head Start and Head Start Providers; and informal ECE providers or Family, Friend, and Neighbor caregivers. Groups will be offered in Spanish.

  3. Providers Supporting Pregnant or Parenting Families, including representatives from the health and behavioral health fields, Early Intervention, Home Visiting, Family Advocates, and more.

You can help us by signing up for a focus group and/or sharing these opportunities with your network. Access promotional materials - including social media posts, flyers, and sample language - here, and reach out to Alejandra Londono-Gomez ( with any questions.


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